“But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him.” (1 John 2:5, NKJV)
My son and daughter-in-law had their firstborn baby, a girl. She is gorgeous in every way. A work of art formed by God in her mother’s womb. With apps that tracked the baby’s development in the womb and ultrasound pictures that showed her appearance, they were able to track her in that formation until the day she was born and they saw her face to face.
If love were a baby in the womb what would it look like at maturity? Ultimately, that baby would look like God incarnate, born into this world thoroughly other-oriented. Jesus was born not to be served but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many. The Kingdom He would bring would not be about Himself but about others, those He came to save, those for whom He gave Himself.
We tend to think of love as some sort of warm fuzzy, squishy with sentiment, not needing any backbone. But that is not the love God demonstrated to us in the giving of His Son. That is not the love He is perfecting in us.
What does John means when he says that “the love of God is perfected”? It means that God’s love has come to term, mature and complete. When we see the face of this love, what will it look like? It will be the spitting image of the Father who is love. It will resemble His beloved Son whose very sustenance was to do the will of the Father (John 4:34).
For the love of God to be perfected in us speaks to conformity to the image of Jesus. John expresses it in terms of obedience. “He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him” (1 John 2:4–5).
Like we might search a child’s face to figure out who she looks like, John bids us to search our hearts to see if the truth of God is in us. If it is, we will discern a love for the law of God and a delight in doing what He commands. If not, we are liar, deceiving others and self-deceived.
Are we united to Christ? Do we bear the family resemblance as children of God? John sums up for us: “By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked” (1 John 2:5–6).
How does love relate to keeping God’s commands?